Holiday stress: It’s so ubiquitous, it’s practically cliché. Yet few people actually fit in an extra wintertime massage or day at the spa. How can Portland massage therapists come to the rescue? By effectively marketing their offerings during this darkest, and often busiest, part of the year.

We all know that the holidays are a time of stress. Consider a Healthline study which found that 56% of Gen X-ers, 61% of millennials, and 62% of Baby Boomers feel stress during the holidays.

Yet few people actually set aside time to destress. The 2016 American Time Use Study found that, on average, a woman with children spends just 11 minutes per day on self-care activities such as exercise or recreation. Married men spend just 15 minutes per day on such self-care. The bottom line? Americans aren’t prioritizing self-care. And we’re betting that tendency is exacerbated during the holiday season. Yet this “most wonderful” (read: busiest) time of the year is exactly when we most need self-care to help us deal with skyrocketing stress levels.

Massage: An Enjoyable Antidote to Holiday Stress
Is massage a luxury? Or self-indulgent? Absolutely not! Holiday stress can rob us of sleep, increase our blood pressure, and leave our hearts and minds racing. Not to mention the nosedive our best dietary intentions take at this time of year! With all these stressors, our minds and bodies are not operating optimally. Massage battles stress in multiple ways, allowing us to better enjoy the holidays while cruising through the season’s challenges.

How Massage Helps Offset Stress

Feel-Good Hormones. During this time of the year, many people slack on their exercise routines. Who feels like working out when it’s dark and icy outside? Massage can help! Massage produces many of the same soothing “happy chemicals” one gets from a good run, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Improved Sleep. Indulgent parties, crammed schedules, holiday change to routines: It all makes regular sleep challenging. Again, massage to the rescue! As the AMTA reports, multiple studies suggest that regular massage improves sleep. Consistent ZZZs can help zap holiday stress, as well as seasonal anxiety and depression.

Soothe the Sympathetic Nervous System. From a medical perspective, stress is “up-regulation,” when the body turns on the fight/fight/freeze response in the face of external stimuli. Up-regulation is performed by the sympathetic nervous system. We experience stress when the body is “stuck” in a sympathetic response. The other half of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic side—its job is to help release the stress of upregulation. As discussed in Massage Magazine, massage helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, turning off the fight/flight/freeze response and helping the recipient feel less stressed.

Target Acupressure Points. Reflexology, Tui Na, and other styles of Eastern-influenced massage therapy increase energy by alleviating blockages along energy lines, or meridians. By focusing on acupressure points throughout the body, massage therapists can decrease stress. A 2013 study from Georgetown University found acupuncture to be an effective way to fight stress; acupressure uses the same energetic principals without requiring needles.

Holiday Marketing Tips for Therapists

Fight the good fight against holiday stress! Entice clients to your door with these marketing approaches.

  1. Say “Thank You” (and “Hello” to new customers) with Gift Certificates. Acknowledge your most loyal clients by giving them each a complimentary massage gift certificate. Here’s the catch: They must spread the joy of the season by passing on the certificate to a friend. It’s a win-win for massage careers and massage-seekers alike: You get a new referral, your customers feel appreciated, and new clients find your exceptional services.If full gift certificates are too much, offer your clients free add-on treatments, such as an extra 10 minutes of massage, or aromatherapy. Sending hand-written holiday cards to your top 25 clients, and emailing 50 more clients, is another excellent way to celebrate your success while growing customer loyalty. Throw in a New Year’s special and watch your appointment book fill.
  2. Use Social Media to Inform and Entice. Twitter, Facebook, and your blogging platform are excellent tools for connecting with holiday customers, but the “hard sale” rarely works. Certainly, posting your holiday specials is wise—but this sort of promotional material should make up no more than 20% of your overall social media content. With these messages, include a call to action, such as “Give the Gift of Health! Purchase one gift certificate and get a massage for yourself at half off.” Throw in a link to your online store. The other 80% of your messages should be conversational in tone. For instance, you can post tips for holiday self-care, such as this article from Psychology Today, and ask how your followers are committing to their own health this holiday season. As the conversation unfolds, you will likely have an opportunity to mention your services.
  3. Promote Gift Cards Early and Often. Portland massage therapy gift cards make great gifts, particularly when they are for individual therapists. For would-be massage recipients, a massage gift card is more than an enjoyable present: It’s also a time-saver, since they don’t have to spend weeks searching for a talented therapist. For dazzling holiday season sales, start early: Set up events for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Place gift card displays in your practice space. Have your online store setup by September. Plan ahead for the best results.

Of course, Portland massage therapists are just as susceptible to holiday stress as everyone else. So to conclude, we’d like to encourage all our alumni and students to set aside time for themselves this holiday season. Arrange a trade or set up an appointment in our Portland massage clinic. Just as an hour of blissful body work can help your clients sail through the season, so can massage help you maximize your appreciation of the wonder of the holidays.